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  • Writer's pictureMichael Landis

It's all about Cheddar, there's beer too!

As part of our 4-Part Cheesy Deep Dive Series at Six Ten Brewing, last night was “It’s all about Cheddar.” The rich flavors of these cheeses are matched up perfectly with the direction of the Brewmaster, Chris Johnson at Six Ten Brewing and his exceptional beers. For these pairings he selected these beers to pair up with the Cheddars. One thing to keep in mind when pairing up cheese and beer, it’s like love, it’s in the eye or should I say, in the palate of the beholder. With 20 people tasting the same cheese, we never agreed in total of the best beer for the pairings. Someone always thought it was better with one of the other beers. Which is the point of tasting more than one beer with the cheese. I must give credit to Leslie Johnson who came up with the deep dive sessions along with providing multiple beers to taste instead of picking one that would be used. Brilliant and absolutely true, we all picked different beers with the cheese for different reasons. The pairings listed below are the ones that I picked, so you have to conduct your own tasting to find out which one would work for you.

Six Ten Brewing Lazy Daze Czech Pilsner

Six Ten Brewing Gateway Pale Ale

Six Ten Brewing TPA Double IPA

MouCo Cheddar Cheese Curds & Six Ten Brewing Lazy Daze Czech Pilsner

Our first pairing of the night was with the MouCo Cheese Co. cheddar cheese curds and I thought the Six Ten Brewing Lazy Daze Czech Pilsner was the best pairing for them. These curds are the real deal, they come out of their bag in all sizes and shapes, which is what you get from the cheese vat.

Splendid tang and a hint of butter with a nice saltiness that worked so well with the Pilsner grains, as Chris said, “a great balance of sweet (beer) and salty (cheese.) Really a great pairing for a nice simple cheese and beer experience. The beer also cleans the palate after every sip and you get a fresh taste of these delicious cheddar cheese curds.

Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese Medium Cheddar Aged over 4 Months & Six Ten Brewing Lazy Daze Czech Pilsner

Our next pairing started off what you find most often in cheddars, a young mild cheddar and Henning’s Wisconsin medium cheddar aged for 4 months fit right in. I kept the same pairing as the curds with the Six Ten Brewing Lazy Daze Czech Pilsner. This 4-month-old cheddar had a nice buttery flavor along with a sour cream tanginess that was, melt in your mouth creamy. Again, the Pilsner grains worked so well with the buttery and tang that it was like adding a nice crusty bread to the pairing.

Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese Aged Cheddar Aged over 9 Months & Six Ten Brewing Lazy Daze Czech Pilsner

If you are thinking that I only liked the Pilsner with the cheeses you are somewhat correct. The other beers had some real hoppiness with them and I thought that the 4 month and 9 month didn’t have enough flavors to go up against the hops in both of the other beers. The Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese aged 9-month cheddar stepped up the buttery flavor and tanginess, the tang moved to a nice citrus tang and didn’t interfere with the Six Ten Brewing Lazy Daze Czech Pilsner. As a mater of fact, for me the light lemon flavor of the tang worked even better with the sweetness of the Pilsner grains. This would make a great grilled cheese sandwich and beer pairing for me.

Tillamook English-Style Sweet Cheddar Aged 12 Months & Six Ten Brewing Gateway Pale Ale

I’ve had this cheese before and it’s one of my favorite cheddars as it’s one of those creamy, buttery, tangy and well-balanced cheddars. It’s aged for 12 months and has a richness that surpasses the Pilsner and overpowers it. The Six Ten Brewing Gateway is a classic pale ale that is a little more hoppy than most and that’s a good thing as it works great with the creamy buttery and tangy flavors of the Tillamook English-Style Sweet Cheddar. Don’t be misled by the word sweet in the title, it’s not a sugar sweet, it’s a buttery sweet, which is fantastic! There’s enough structure in the cheese flavors that if you are an IPA hoppy fan, you can definitely pair it up too. The tanginess of the cheese has a lemon cream flavor that is delicious and would be a nice addition to any recipe where you would like to add in a little bit of butter and lemon to the dish.

Jasper Hill Farm Cave Aged Cheddar & Six Ten Brewing English Porter

Okay I know it’s not on the list of beers, but Chris and I agreed that it would have been a better choice for this pairing. Even though it did work well with the Pilsner, it was much better with his Porter. This is an Icon of a cheddar, being produced by Cabot and cave-aged by Jasper Hill Farm. It’s not just aged, they coat and wrap it before it goes to aging then they constantly taste it until it is aged to perfection, then it’s released. I’ve always loved the aroma of a natural rind cheese, reminds of the root cellars from my childhood in Iowa. The cheese has a great balance of butter and earthiness along with a very subtle tang. That’s why it works so well with the Porter, the earthy buttery flavors work well with the sweet malt of the Porter. However, for everyone else, the Pils did a fantastic job!

Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese Extra Sharp Cheddar Aged 3 Years & Six Ten Brewing TPA Double IPA

The Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese Extra Sharp Cheddar is what you love about an extra sharp cheddar, the citrusy lemon lime tang and noticeable saltiness that works perfectly together to give you the extra zing in the cheese. Those in the class that are big fans of sharp cheddars said that this was the perfect example of an extra sharp cheddar. This is a powerful and well-made cheddar that stood up to the rich and hoppy flavors of the Six Ten Brewing TPA Double IPA. This is a beautiful beer on its own, rich in malts and balanced out by a nice hoppiness, which is perfect for this cheese. The malt brought out more of the butter and the hops melted perfectly with the tang. Wonderful pairing.

Tillamook Maker’s Reserve 2016 Cheddar & Six Ten Brewing TPA Double IPA

Well, the first thing that came to my mind was, Bam! This is my cheddar, rich butter, citrus tang, salty and crunchy. Love this! This to me is what a cheddar can be, rich and powerful. With an aged cheddar that is a good thing. I have a Tillamook Maker’s Reserve 2010 and it’s amazing as well, but this 2016 is right in there for an extra sharp version of this amazing line of cheddars. The Six Ten Brewing TPA worked like it did with the Henning’s, the malt brought up the butter and hops worked with the citrusy tang. Both Tillamook and Henning’s cheddars would be a great and impressive addition to any cheeseboard.

Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese Peppercorn Cheddar Cheese & Six Ten Brewing Lazy Daze Czech Pilsner

Okay I will admit that after the class I sat up at the bar and almost ate an entire 8 oz, it’s so good. The peppercorns are a perfect addition to this young cheddar, butter and peppercorn a great flavor combination. I had a few students comment that they were afraid of it being hot or too spicy. This is not hot or spicy, it’s the real flavor of black peppercorns and they come off as a little sweet. Since you get more of a buttery and pepper flavor, I went back to the Six Ten Brewing Lazy Daze Czech Pilsner. The sweet pilsner malt again blended perfectly with the mild cheddar and even worked well with the peppercorns. Chris and I talked about a pink peppercorn flavored beer that Travis Kruger (Crooked Thumb Brewing) made when he was the brewer at the Cigar City Brewpub. Peppercorns work great with beer too. The main comment from the students was all of the recipes that they could add this cheese too! I agree so many recipes need this cheese!

Tillamook Hickory Smoked Extra Sharp White Cheddar & Six Ten Brewing English Porter

As my friend Liz Buck would say, “This ain’t no kids game.” This a real hickory smoked cheddar cheese, no doubt about it. Rich smoky flavor along with the buttery flavors of the cheese with a hint of tang. That hint of tang gives it a push in the meaty flavor direction. If you like smoked meats this will satisfy you with its flavors. I’ve always been a fan of a smoked porter, had my first one at the Alaskan Brewery in Juneau, Alaska back in 1994 and I still have what’s left of a 12 pack from 1996. So, the Six Ten English Porter actually tones down a little bit of the smokiness and brings up more of the butter and tang. It’s a rich and complicated balance of flavors that easy to enjoy and savor. For many of the students they were surprised on much of the hickory smoke you could taste on the cheese, it showed them how much of a difference it makes in the quality of the smoking process. A true rich and flavorful cheese.

Next week brings our last and final deep dive in this 4-part serries and I will be bringing out the Blues! I will let you know right now that I will end the class with the 2019/2020 World Cheese Awards World Best Cheese. By the way, which by itself will cost more that the price of the class. I will also have the 2019/2020 International Cheese Award Reserve Supreme champion blue cheese. If it arrives in time, I will also have the 2019/2020 International Cheese Awards Best USA Cheese. Three of the worlds best cheese, yes are blue cheeses. Hope to see you there!

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